ACR Chair stresses low-dose radiation research in comments to House committee

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 - James A. Brink, MD, FACR

The chair of the American College of Radiology (ACR) Board of Chancellors, James A. Brink, MD, spoke to the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Energy today in Washington, D.C. The subcommittee was there to discuss the United States Department of Energy’s funding of low-dose radiation research, and Brink told its members that such research was needed to improve patient care going forward.

Brink summarized sources of radiation exposure, both natural and man-made, and explained to the subcommittee why so much radiation exposure is associated with medical imaging.

“To be clear: The use of radiation in medicine saves lives, improves the quality of care and the quality of life for millions of patients each year,” Brink said. “Advances in medical imaging have rendered exploratory surgery virtually obsolete. Disease can be identified earlier and treatments monitored more readily to allow for optimal patient care.”

He also went into detail about the importance of low-dose radiation research. “Not everyone in the scientific community agrees with the validity of extrapolating cancer risk for low-dose radiation exposure based on data from individuals who received high doses of radiation,” Brink said. “Some believe there is a threshold below which radiation exposure should not be a concern.”

Brink added that the most recent report from the National Academies Board of Radiation Effects Research was produced in 2006, calling for an updated report that examines data from the last decade of research.

Brink’s statement can be read in full on the ACR’s website.